We recently caught up with guitarist/vocalist, Kai Giritli from our current AMPED Artist Of The Week, Subversion for an in-depth discussion about the band’s highly acclaimed new album, ‘Animi,’ how they deal with bad reviews, their plans for the rest of 2015 and a whole lot more. Check it out below.
Subversion has made some serious headway since forming in 2008, having played internationally with several renowned metal acts, including: Tesseract, Mnemic, Monuments, Xerath, Hacktivist and Chimp Spanner and performed at the UK Tech Metal Festival and Euroblast Festival. The band’s first album, ‘Lest We Forget’ was released to rave reviews from some of the world’s leading metal publications, including Metal Hammer, Kerrang!, Terrorizer and Rock Sound Magazine, while, ‘Animi’ is slated to propel the band even further.
*Note that some parts of this interview may be out-dated due to unforseen circumstances resulting in its delay.
What can you tell us about your new album, ‘Animi’?
It kind of signifies a lot of hard work, a lot of hard times and stands as testament that we made it through. I don’t think it would have turned out as self-fulfilling as it has if we didn’t just scrape through 4 years of ups and downs to get here.
We are extremely proud of “Animi,” everything on it is just so many levels above where we used to be. Production-wise, I have come a mentally long way; I know a lot of people are taking a dig at it being too clean and polished, and not gritty “like metal should be,” but for us…this is what we wanted.
We put everything that makes us who we are in to this, we love our heavy stuff, but there are just so many different types of music out there, we have never wanted to create music for just one type of music lover. We love our electronic stuff, pop, hard rock, orchestral scores and film scores…there is just too much we want to cram in to one album, so I’m still sat here like….gosh, there is soo much more to write for the next one!
Did you have a particular theme or concept in mind when you began writing it?
Our first album “Lest We Forget” was a concept album, it only felt right to continue this on in to “Animi.” This time however, we wanted to trim some of the fat. The story is deeper, more intricate, far less straight forward and is influenced by various lore’s across the world to create our own.
The original concept was simple; mapping the various emotions experienced by the human mind. Thus the album was called the working title of “the mind map experiment” for most of its pre-release life. The idea was to have a track per significant emotion…but this changed as it developed…like most ideas tend to do.
In its final form, we tell the story of the creation of mankind by an unknown force of nature/or nature itself. It then develops in to the typical human flaws such as jealousy, selfishness…taking the world for granted and infecting it…like a virus infects its host…we infected this planet we were gifted by the universe.
So what happens? The universe turns against us, decides to wipe us clean off of this planet to try and save the Earth from its suffering. Each song on “Animi” is a small part of the overall story. Basically, our mind is flawed, and it needs to be eradicated. This concept can be best represented visually by the album cover for “Animi” if you take a look.
What was the inspiration for the artwork?
Well the artwork was derived from the lore we created for “Animi.” We created an in depth description of the overall story – track by track – and the artist (the very talented Snovonne Drake) took these ideas right out of our heads and created exactly what we had in our heads…and then some. We are seriously happy about the work she did for us….all hand drawn too….in the style of da Vinci, thank you Sno!
This is your first album since coming off of a three year hiatus, what made you decide to return?
Well, Subversion was far from a well-oiled machine with its previous line-up…the stress of people not pulling their weight, coupled with having to cover the costs and efforts that weren’t upheld by various members, it was a nightmare for the early years of the bands life. It seriously held us back, and I just couldn’t really put up with it anymore. It was my fault we hit a hiatus in the first place, but I just needed time to rethink it all…as it was not working.
When we came back, it all changed, serious talks were had, people left or were given the soft boot…and well, the rest of us started searching for who we thought would really give the band what it deserved. Everything changed when Ben Atkinson became our drummer, his business head really spliced well with the rest of us and we pushed hard to get the front man we needed… Queue Jay Shields.
Suddenly it was easy; writing flowed like water off a ducks back, gigs didn’t seem like a chore anymore, money was not an issue…in under a year we churned out “Animi”…2014 was the most inspirational time of our lives so far.
Did you find the break helped you to write the album or was it more of a challenge then writing ‘Lest We Forget’?
Well, during the break I managed to get back to my normal head, my craving for music got a hell of a lot bigger and I ended up writing ‘Novation’ during this period of time. The lack of pressure from the band back then meant I could just relax and really spend some serious time learning my stuff for production, playing guitar and developing my singing voice.
So I guess, overall I’d say “Animi” was a bigger feat, but it came more naturally, we had done this before so we knew what to do this time. “Lest We Forget” was definitely a lot of fun though, but we as a band were just finding our feet back then, so the whole thing seemed like a mountain we couldn’t climb.
Would you say your sound has evolved over the past few years?
Short answer, yes! We invested a lot of time in getting tighter as musicians, finding that tone that would show that tightness off the best way we could, and of course the production quality is leagues above the last album. I kind of really enjoy the contrast between the two albums…both albums are 100% in house mixing and mastering…and I think it is a great way to show people that practice, patience, time and effort really can pay off and make a massive difference.
Fans have already had the chance to hear several tracks from ‘Animi,’ how has their response been?
I think a lot of people seem to be expressing a note of shock at the difference between this album and the last one. Production quality is causing debates to break out as to if it’s over produced (makes me chuckle) or that the production is spot on and makes the old album sound like crud…this is very fulfilling.
Anyway, I digress, on the whole the feedback has been amazing, I’m seeing people really digging ‘Born of the Sun’ and ‘Entropy,’ oh and ‘Catalyst’ seems to really get people going….which is pretty sweet as these tracks live seem to get them going too .
Really loving the messages some people are sending us right now, so keep them coming guys!
Do you have a personal favorite track on the album?
I’d have to say ‘Entropy’; it has a balance of dirty filth, big pop style hooks, coupled with some electronica, symphonic layers and some groovy guitar riffs that are mega fun to play live.
There is actually a set of orchestral strings in ‘Entropy’ that I did a while back for a bit of fun…a fan of the band heard it and loved it and begged for it to be in a full track one day ….I never forgot that, so it’s right in there buddy!
You’ve already released the video to ‘Born Of The Sun,’ what can you tell us about that?
This is by far the simplest track on the album. We wanted it to be hard, heavy, big and easy to rock out to on stage. I think we nailed it there.
We didn’t realise just how much we would enjoy this track when it was finished, it just had to be the one we made a video for and it’s also the very first thing people hear on the album of course. This is also however partly due to the subject matter of the track telling the story of the birth of mankind ‘Born of the Sun’…all things are created from what you find inside a star, it all just fell in to place.
Ben Herbert is the guy that filmed this one for us, he is a total G to work with and really knows how to handle that camera….and us lot of course. By far one of the most fun experiences during the production of Animi that we have had.
Do you have plans for a second video?
We have actually been in a few chats regarding another video a little later in the year, currently we aren’t too sure which track to do it for, kind of hard to make a choice when you have heard the songs so many times you hate them all….so I think it might be one to leave to the feedback from our fans. Not much else we can say on this one really…we are hoping for a bigger budget and a bigger idea this time…and we certainly have a fair few mad ideas!
Unlike many bands, you guys don’t seem to be disheartened by bad press and have even shared unfavorable reviews on your Facebook account. How does it make you feel when you read such articles?
I’m not going to lie, it does get your back up a bit when someone takes your many years of hard work and lays in to without really giving it much of a thought.
It always seems too forced; you can tell that some people are seriously doing it just because they want hits on their page. A bad review is always more entertaining than a good one. But this is also why we really shouldn’t mind that this happens at all. People are generally lovers of the nasty stuff, so they love to read really bad things…so if someone hates what we do, and makes a big deal about hating it, it tends to send a truck load of traffic our way and we actually gain a mental amount of new fans that way….so in hind-sight…bring it!
For all those with constructive criticism however, thank you! You guys are the ones that actually contribute in some way towards how the next record turns out.
The feedback “Lest We Forget” received, in part, paved the way to what you hear now on “Animi.”
You recently announced a co-headlining tour with No Sin Evades His Gaze; do you have anything special in the works for that?
We are really excited about this, it is our first full on UK tour so it will be a great experience for us. Finally getting the live show we’ve spent so much time on, up and down the country to warm us up for the rest of the year, it should be big!
We started the whole thing off with our bros in Xerath on the 6th (of March) and I also believe our London date is with the legendary Destiny Potato.
How many new tracks will you be playing on the tour?
Pretty much the whole album, give or take some tracks on some nights due to set times etc.
Obviously we will bring out some golden oldies from “Lest We Forget,” but on the whole, we will be hammering the new tracks in to everyone’s ears until they bleed…or something to that effect, ha.
Do you have any other touring plans for 2015?
We are currently planning out our EU tour for later on in the year; there isn’t anything I can give away on that one right now without having my nuts removed with a pair of needle nose pliers, but it is safe for me to say, watch this space!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Well the album is out now worldwide…all the usual places you might find it like iTunes, Amazon, our Bandcamp etc. I hope people enjoy the fruit of our loins…and if you don’t..well meh to you.
Of course I would like to add a big thank you to you, for taking the time to carry out this interview and listen to me waffle on and on…and on…I tend to talk a lot ha.